All whirled-peas

Published on September 10th, 2011 | by Greg


Weekend Retreat: New Board Games

Sure, school has start­ed. And fall is be­gin­ning to make it’s pres­ence known. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! It might not be the hol­i­days yet, but there are still a few items re­leased in this twi­light-of-sum­mer. We’ve got two in­ter­est­ing new board games- and who knows, you might even learn some­thing from them! We saw both at the Toy Fair ear­li­er this year, and both are good games for fair­ly large groups.

The Whirled Peas web­site is pret­ty an­noy­ing- we men­tion this since it au­to­plays mu­sic, and it is a bit dif­fi­cult to fig­ure out how to make it stop. Al­so, the site isn’t par­tic­u­lar­ly con­vinc­ing, with an­i­mat­ed flow­ers, stretched puns, and the slight­ly dis­turb­ing roy­al pea mas­cot. Still, the ba­sic premise is cute, with the mas­cot as a plas­tic spin­ner and a bunch of fly­ing peas. The con­struc­tion and ma­te­ri­als are sol­id, and the theme grows on you. Al­so, we love par­ty games, es­pe­cial­ly where most ev­ery­one can play at once. For this one, you form two teams, and com­pete on five dif­fer­ent types of chal­lenges- and though a cou­ple are nor­mal ‘mime’ or ‘sketch-a-phrase’, one of them in­cludes put­ty and an­oth­er has you try­ing to fig­ure out what was drawn on your back. All in all, it’s good clean fun, and a nice con­trast to Ap­ples to Ap­ples and oth­er judg­ing-based games. It keeps peo­ple en­gaged, though we found the ‘Clap Trap’ chal­lenges to be a bit un-fun and a weird con­trast to the oth­er four. At $35, it’s a tough call- there are many great games out there that are more orig­i­nal or more suit­ed for spe­cif­ic au­di­ences. Diehard board gamers might not love it, but they might pre­fer it to yet an­oth­er round Cra­ni­um. 13+, four or more play­ers, sev­en peas in your pod to win the game.

On a sim­i­lar mixed note comes An­a­lyze Me Game from Blue Or­ange. This is the type of game that lives or dies on the strength of the ques­tions, and the good news is that there has been some re­al thought put in­to them. But the an­swers are a bit of a dif­fer­ent note, and you’ll see what we mean in a mo­ment.

The ba­sics of the game are the same. In­side the fair­ly small tin you get a bunch of cards, col­or-cod­ed in­to four cat­e­gories: work, play, so­cial, and pri­vate. The game is aimed at adults- 18 and over- so the ques­tions are at times a bit… well, adult. We tried it as in­tend­ed, with a group of four (three to eight are sug­gest­ed), and quick­ly found some weak points. For starters, each ques­tion has three pos­si­ble choic­es, but of­ten feel a bit con­strain­ing. Many times, it slowed the game down, or felt ar­bi­trary, as peo­ple were forced to choose some­thing that they didn’t re­al­ly be­lieve. You need to col­lect one of each type of card to win, and you do that by vot­ing on how you think the oth­er play­ers will choose. Thus, the guess­ing can be a bit ran­dom when play­ers aren’t act­ing quite in the spir­it of the game, or when some play­ers know each oth­er re­al­ly well, or sim­ply when you’re un­able to guess be­cause of the forced an­swers. We still had fun with it, just us­ing the cards in a more free-form two-play­er set­ting. As an arm­chair psy­chol­o­gy game, the me­chan­ic is on­ly so-so, but the idea is sound and there is still some de­cent re­playa­bil­i­ty. $16, avail­able on­line and in stores.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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